The omnipresence of white sneakers in popular culture made me ponder whether black ones are as universally appreciated. Often, they're relegated to being worn as part of a uniform — see waiters and retail workers — but, in my opinion, they aren't bad at all. Internet search queries confirm, though, that they give men trouble. "What to wear with black sneakers?" and "How to wear black sneakers?" are two of the most popular questions posed to Google's crystal ball.
My advice? Don't overdo it. All-black sneakers are fine if you dress monochromatically or gravitate toward all-black outfits, but few of us, if any, keep that up. Seek out black sneakers that incorporate other colors — even if it's simply white, off-white or gray. That being said, there's a mix of both on this list. Shop it below.
Best Overall Black Sneakers: Stepney Workers Dellow Leather Sneaker
Stepney Workers Club's leather sneakers look a bit like bowling shoes but minus the clown-like look. They're cut from semi-gloss black leather and contrasted with ecru accents (laces, logo and the vulcanized rubber outsole).
Best Upgrade Black Sneakers: Feit Hand Sewn Low Latex
One master craftsman assumes the role of assembling each of Feit's shoes — which range in style from gardening boots to latex runners. An upper comprising of one piece of breathable and biodegradable long-hair suede is stitched to a midsole and then both are cemented to the latex bottom. If they wear out, they can be resoled, too.
Best Affordable Black Sneakers: Converse Chuck 70 Low Canvas Sneaker
What more can we say about Converse's Chuck 70 sneaker? Cut from heavier canvas and set on a thicker vulcanized rubber sole, these are the superior version of the low-top All-Star.
Oliver Cabell Low 1 Jet Black
Independent footwear manufacturer Oliver Cabell's Low 1 sneakers are all black with two subtle exceptions: gold text logos on the heel and tongue. Otherwise, these are simply full grain calfskin leather atop a Margom Italian outsole.
Represent Reptor Low Sneaker
British streetwear label Represent makes a whole collection of sneakers — and they're really great. These are a combination of suede and leather atop a cream-colored outsole. Yes, these are definitely influenced by hype-generating releases and rare one-offs, but they're simpler — and thus easier to wear — than they you'd imagine.
Grenson Nubuck Sneakers
Black sneakers constructed solely from leather sometimes come off as stiff — or something assigned to you in a service job (not a bad thing, obviously, but it's the way it goes). The suede upper on these Grenson Nubuck sneakers soften their look while lending luxuriousness.
Adidas OZWEEGO Shoes
Say it with me: OZ-WEE-GO. These are an update on Adidas' 1998 sneaker the Ozweego 3, minus the tendency to overindulge in nostalgia. The all-black iteration is arguably the easiest to adopt — and least chunky looking — but they aren't just for relaxed outfits. Adiprene in the heel and forefoot offer improved shock absorption.
New Balance M990v5 Suede and Mesh Sneakers
New Balance sneakers are everywhere and that means you can get away with wearing a pair that's more widely available — no one will know the difference between your general release and the newest ultra-rare collab.
Vans UA OG SK8-Hi LX Sneakers
Lined and accented with white leather, the Vans UA OG SK8-Hi LX sneakers were the first to feature the brand's signature side stripe, initially a doodle done by late founder Paul Van Doren.
Nike SB Zoom Blazer Mid
Several recent editions of the classic Nike Blazer have positioned it as more of a lifestyle shoe. However, Nike SB's iteration emphasizes the style's durability. These are equipped with suede uppers, a leather achilles patch, revamped tread and a Zoom air pocket in the heel.
Salomon XT-Wings 2
Salomon sneakers, for some, can be an acquired taste. (I'll admit it; I've only warmed to them recently.) But, if you're going to get a pair of black sneakers, we say go Gorp or go home. They're trail-tested but have been re-released in an array of city-friendly colors.
Pharrell Williams Superstar PK
Multi-hyphenate Pharrell's new signature Superstar was constructed from Primeknit uppers, a custom herringbone tread and a rounded rubber outsole (which curls up onto the toe box). Plus, there's a Pharrell-approved reflexology sock liner designed to reduce stress — so they say — as you wear them.